The Donbas battle, on wide-open terrain, will look significantly different from the urban warfare around Kyiv, where the Russian military tried and failed to advance.

This does not mean that Ukraine no longer needs the anti-tank and air-defense systems that have been so effective so far, military analysts said. In addition, the Ukrainians will need powerful arms to enable a counteroffensive of their own.

The $800 million military aid package to Ukraine that President Biden announced last week for the first time included more sophisticated artillery weaponry as well as 200 armored personnel carriers. In a conference call with allies on Tuesday, Mr. Biden promised more artillery for Ukraine’s forces.

Atlantic Council analysis last week.

“This phase of the conflict will be distinct from phase one, with a greater focus on offensives against dug-in combatants as opposed to Ukrainian defense against a large attacking force,” Colonels Wetzel and Barranco wrote. “The campaign is likely to become a bloody war of attrition with limited territorial gains on either side.”

Capturing the besieged city of Mariupol is a key part of the Russian campaign. The fall of the city, which has come to symbolize the death and devastation wrought by the invasion, would allow Russia to complete a land bridge between Russian-held territory and the Crimean peninsula.

A sprawling Soviet-era steel factory in Mariupol, which its designers have said was built to withstand a nuclear attack, has been sheltering thousands of soldiers and civilians and is the last Ukrainian redoubt there.

Russian commanders said Tuesday they were beginning their final assault on the factory, the Azovstal steel plant, after the defenders had rejected ultimatums to surrender. A Ukrainian officer in Mariupol, Maj. Sergiy Volyna, wrote on a Telegram channel that “we are ready to fight to the last drop of blood.”

Thomas Gibbons-Neff reported from Kharkiv, Michael Schwirtz from Dnipro, Ukraine, and Eric Schmitt from Washington. Reporting was contributed byNatalia Yermak and Tyler Hicks from Kharkiv. Katie Rogers from Washington and Rick Gladstone from New York.

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‘They Are Gone, Vanished’: Missing Persons Haunt Ukrainian Village

In a Russian-occupied village, five men went off to feed cattle. Their relatives and neighbors are wondering what happened to them.


HUSARIVKA, Ukraine — The cows wouldn’t stop screaming.

Russian soldiers had occupied this remote village in eastern Ukraine for about two weeks and were using a farm as a base. But the animals at the farm hadn’t been fed. Their incessant bleating was wearing on both occupiers and townspeople.

A group of five residents from Husarivka, an unassuming agricultural village of around 1,000 people, went to tend the cattle.

They were never heard from again.

“My two nephews disappeared. They went to feed the cows on the farm,” said Svitlana Tarusyna, 70. “They are gone, vanished.”

What transpired in Husarivka has all the horrifying elements of the more widely publicized episodes involving Russian brutality: indiscriminate killings, abuse and torture taking place over the better part of a month.

considering applying for membership in the alliance. Dmitri A. Medvedev, Russia’s former president and prime minister, said Moscow would be forced to “seriously strengthen” its defenses in the Baltics if the two countries were to join.

The five men fed the cows and tended to their duties. But as they left, something on the farm exploded, residents recalled. Whether it was an artillery strike or an attempt at sabotage is unclear, but it seemed to contribute to their disappearance; Mr. Doroshenko stated that the Russians captured the men after the explosion. It is possible they were behind some type of attack on the Russian headquarters.

“They only got to the crossroad and were seized,” Mr. Doroshenko said.

Two other people near the farm also went missing that day, Mr. Doroshenko added. Roughly a week later, on March 24, a Russian sniper shot and killed Andriy Mashchenko as he rode home on his bicycle. He had been sheltering in a neighbor’s basement during an artillery barrage. He died on Peace Street.

Under heavy bombardment, the Russians retreated from Husarivka about two days later, and Ukrainian forces swept through afterward. The town’s casualty tally during the occupation: seven people missing, two killed by gunfire and at least two by shelling.

Evidence scattered around the town showed how artillery had ruled the day. Spent rockets lay in fields. Roofs were caved in. The rusted hulks of Russian vehicles were seemingly everywhere. In one armored personnel carrier, the corpse of what was presumed to be a Russian soldier remained, barely recognizable as someone’s son.

But as Ukrainian soldiers sifted through the battlefield wreckage after their victory, they found something on Petrusenko Street. It was in a backyard basement sealed shut by a rusted metal door.

“In this cellar the bodies were found,” said Olexiy, a chief investigator in the region who declined to provide his last name for security reasons. He gestured down into a soot-covered hole. “They were covered by car tires and burned,” he said.

“There is no way to tell the cause of their death,” he added, “We found three hands, two legs, three skulls.”

The bodies have yet to be identified, he said. Residents of Husarivka believe the three had been part of the group of five who disappeared. Images provided to The New York Times clearly showed that a rubber work boot was melted to the foot of one leg.

But hauntingly, no one knows for sure what happened to the five men. Many of the cows they went to feed ended up being killed by the shelling.

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Live Updates: Putin Draws Line on U.S. Arms for Ukraine

Stung by war losses and massing troops for a new battle in eastern Ukraine, Russia has warned the Biden administration to stop supplying advanced weapons to Ukrainian forces or face “unpredictable consequences,” American officials said Friday.

The Russian message — one of a series of warnings punctuated by a formal protest note, delivered on Tuesday — suggested rising concerns in Moscow that the weapons were seriously hindering Russia’s combat capabilities.

The existence of the message was disclosed as the Kremlin was funneling armaments, including attack helicopters, to Russia’s border with eastern Ukraine for the next phase of its two-month-old invasion of the country.

Over the course of the war, the U.S. administration has provided increasingly heavier weapons to the Ukrainians — including 155-mm howitzers — as the conflict has ramped up, and it announced a new $800 million arms package this week.

Back in February, as the war began, the administration worried such weaponry could unnecessarily provoke Russia. But after coming under pressure from President Volodymyr Zelensky of Ukraine and members of Congress from both parties, the administration has decided to provide some of the kinds of heavy weapons it says Ukraine will require in the next phase of the war.

The Russian warnings have come as the invasion has met unexpectedly stiff Ukrainian resistance and has exposed weaknesses in Russia’s conventional armed forces.

President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia has installed a new command to oversee the Ukraine war and this past week publicly suggested for the first time that Russia’s goals were limited to securing the Donbas, the section of eastern Ukraine bordering Russia where Moscow-backed separatists have been fighting for eight years.

Russia’s goals when its military invaded on Feb. 24 appeared far more ambitious, with plans to besiege and capture the capital, Kyiv, in the north, cutting off Mr. Zelensky’s government from the rest of the former Soviet republic, which Mr. Putin has said he does not even consider a country.

That strategy backfired and Russian forces retreated last month. They also have failed to completely seize the strategic southeast port of Mariupol despite relentless bombardments that have turned that once bustling city of 450,000 into a wasteland of death and war’s destructive horrors.

Pavlo Kyrylenko, the governor of the Donetsk region of Eastern Ukraine, told CNN on Friday that Ukrainian troops were still in control of Mariupol, but that the city had been “wiped off the face of the earth by the Russian Federation, by those who will never be able to restore it.”

Credit…Alexander Ermochenko/Reuters

In what appeared to be another military embarrassment for Russia that it has sought to cover up, a senior U.S. defense official said Friday that Russia’s Black Sea flagship Moskva, a missile cruiser that sank Thursday, had been struck by two Ukrainian Neptune missiles, and not crippled by an accidental fire and explosion during a storm, as the Kremlin has asserted.

It was the first American corroboration of Ukraine’s claims that its Neptune missiles — a newly deployed weapon with a 190-mile range — had hit the ship, which was struck 65 miles south of the port of Odesa.

The loss of the Moskva was more than just a humiliation, as it could now seriously impair any Kremlin plans for an amphibious assault on Ukraine’s southern coast. The loss also raised questions about Russian dominance of Ukraine’s airspace and the apparent inability of the Moskva, a sophisticated warship, to evade or intercept the Neptunes with its own defense systems.

The U.S. official said that American intelligence assessments had indicated an unspecified number of casualties, contradicting Russian claims that all crew members had been safely evacuated.

Detail

area

Russian-controlled

areas

Russia’s warship, the Moskva, was hit by missiles

about 65 nautical miles south of Odesa,

according to a Defense official.

CRIMEA

Seized in 2014

Snake

Island

April 12

A ship with similar dimensions

and features was seen about

75 nautical miles from Odesa.

April 10

Seen offshore

near port

April 7

Seen in port

in Sevastopol

20 nautical miles

Detail

area

Russian-controlled areas

Russia’s warship, the Moskva, was hit

by missiles about 65 nautical miles

south of Odesa, according to a Defense official.

CRIMEA

Seized in 2014

April 10

Seen offshore

near port

Snake

Island

April 12

A ship with similar

dimensions and

features was seen

about 75 nautical

miles from Odesa.

April 7

Seen in port

in Sevastopol

20 nautical miles

The Russian diplomatic protest note, called a démarche, was sent through normal channels, two administration officials said, and was not signed by Mr. Putin or other senior Russian officials. But it was an indicator, one administration official said, that the weapons sent by the United States were having an effect.

American officials said the tone of the note was consistent with a series of public Russian threats, including to target deliveries of weapons as they moved across Ukrainian territory.

Officials said the note did not prompt any special concern inside the White House. But it has touched off a broader discussion inside the Pentagon and intelligence agencies about whether the “unpredictable consequences” could include trying to target or sabotage some of the weapons shipments while still in NATO territory, before they are transferred to Ukrainians for the final journey into the hands of Ukrainian troops. The delivery of the protest note was first reported by The Washington Post.

The weapons President Biden authorized this week for transfer to the Ukrainians include long-range artillery that is suited for what American officials believe will be a different style of battle in the open areas of the Donbas, where Russian forces appear to be massing for an attack in coming days.

Pentagon officials were insistent in the run-up to the war that the United States provide only defensive weaponry that would avoid escalation.

Jake Sullivan, the president’s national security adviser, described in an interview at the Washington Economic Club on Thursday how he and Gen. Mark A. Milley, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, had reviewed weapons requests. They went over each item with their Ukrainian counterparts, talking about what the United States had in its stocks and what it could deliver quickly.

Reports by pro-Kremlin media have highlighted antitank systems and other Western weapons used by Ukrainian forces, promoting the idea that Russia is not at war with Ukraine but with an American-led alliance seeking to destroy Russia. Mr. Biden and his aides have denied that, saying that they wished to avoid direct conflict with Russia and had no interest in American-engineered regime change.

In Moscow, commentators have been increasingly calling on Russia to strike Ukrainian roads and railroads to inhibit the weapons transfers. While Russia has targeted many of Ukraine’s airports, the country’s ground transportation network remains largely intact.

“The time has come not to speak, but to attack,” Viktor Baranets, a military columnist for Komsomolskaya Pravda, Russia’s biggest tabloid, said on Friday. “Train echelons must be destroyed along with the railways.”

Russia’s concern may partly be over the accuracy Ukraine showed in hitting the Moskva, one of its most sophisticated warships.

Credit…Maxar Technologies

The Russian démarche echoed the public rhetoric of officials in Moscow, who have been warning for weeks that Western arms deliveries to Ukraine would prolong the war and be met with a tough response.

It came as the level of concern among Russian officials over the impact of Western arms has been increasing, said Andrei Kortunov, the director general of the Russian International Affairs Council, a research organization close to the Kremlin.

“It seems the United States and the West in general are right now testing the limits of Russian tolerance when it comes to weapons deliveries,” Mr. Kortunov said. “It’s clear that these volumes are already so significant that they can affect the course of the hostilities, and this is raising concerns.”

A Russian deputy foreign minister, Sergei A. Ryabkov, said on Friday that Russia was “making it clear to the Americans and other Westerners” that attempts to hamper what Russia is calling its “special military operation” in Ukraine and increase Russian losses would be “curbed in a tough manner.”

Credit…David Guttenfelder for The New York Times

He added that NATO vehicles carrying weapons across Ukrainian territory would be “viewed by us as legitimate military targets.” His comments came in an interview with Tass, the state-run news agency.

NATO hands off weapons to the Ukrainians in ways that seek to avoid having the alliance’s vehicles traverse Ukrainian soil. But Mr. Ryabkov’s comments have heightened concerns about whether Russia would take the risk of striking inside NATO territory.

When Mr. Putin announced his “special military operation” on Feb. 24, he said that those “who may be tempted to interfere” in Ukraine would face consequences as severe “as you have never seen in your entire history.”

Credit…Mikhail Klimentyev/Sputnik

“No matter how the events unfold, we are ready,” Mr. Putin said at the time. “All the necessary decisions in this regard have been taken.”

But Russia has so far appeared careful not to escalate the conflict in a way that could draw NATO countries more directly — for instance, not striking weapons convoys crossing into Ukraine from Poland.

“There are still fears regarding strikes that may hit the territory of NATO member countries,” Mr. Kortunov said. “One certainly does not want to create a pretext for some further escalation.”

David E. Sanger and Helene Cooper reported from Washington, and Anton Troianovski from Istanbul. Reporting was contributed by Marc Santora from Krakow, Poland; Michael Schwirtz from Lviv, Ukraine; and Julian E. Barnes and Eric Schmitt from Washington.

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Live Updates: Russian Warship Ukraine Claimed to Have Hit Has Sunk, Moscow Says

BRUSSELS — Russia’s faltering war against Ukraine suffered a pair of setbacks Thursday when the flagship of Russia’s Black Sea fleet sank after a catastrophic explosion and fire, as the European Union moved closer to an embargo on Russian oil imports.

Ukraine claimed to have struck the vessel, the guided missile cruiser Moskva, with two of its own Neptune missiles, while Russia said the blast was caused by ammunition aboard the ship. If confirmed, the missile attack would be a serious blow to Russia, both militarily and symbolically — proof that its ships can no longer operate with impunity, and another damaging blow to morale.

It would also give a lift to Ukrainian hopes, while demonstrating the defenders’ homegrown technological capacity and exposing an embarrassing weakness in the Russian navy’s antimissile defenses.

Moscow also faces the possible loss of European markets in fossil fuels, which are providing billions of dollars a month to support its war effort. The European Union has long resisted calls to reduce its energy dependency on Russia, but officials revealed on Thursday that an oil embargo is in the works and is likely to be adopted in the coming weeks.

That comes on top of a previously announced ban on imports of Russian coal. Taken together, the steps are bound to raise fuel and electricity prices in Europe, potentially disrupting the economy and provoking a political backlash.

Ukraine continues to brace for a Russian offensive in the eastern Donbas region — where Moscow has said it will focus its war efforts after its failure to capture the capital, Kyiv — while Russian forces squeeze the shrinking pocket of resistance in the ruined southern port of Mariupol. The devastation rained there has offered a dire warning of what may befall other cities in the event of a prolonged Russian siege, prompting a mass exodus of civilians from the Donbas.

Credit…Pavel Klimov/Reuters

Its international isolation deepening, the Kremlin reacted ominously to the growing indications that Finland and Sweden would join the NATO alliance in response to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. On Thursday, the government warned that any such expansion of NATO would prompt an increased Russian military presence, including nuclear weapons, in the region.

The C.I.A. director, William J. Burns, warned on Thursday of the possibility that Mr. Putin, facing a debacle in Ukraine, might use a tactical or low-yield nuclear weapon, though he stressed that he had seen no “practical evidence” that such a step was pending. It was the first time he discussed publicly a concern that has been much debated in the White House.

“Given the potential desperation of President Putin and the Russian leadership, given the setbacks that they’ve faced so far, militarily, none of us can take lightly the threat posed by a potential resort to tactical nuclear weapons or low-yield nuclear weapons,” Mr. Burns said, in answering questions after a speech in Atlanta.

Prominent voices in Russian state media have made increasingly incendiary statements recently, calling for more brutality in battles that have already sparked calls for war-crimes investigations of the Russian forces.

Much remained unclear about Russia’s setback in the western Black Sea, where a blast on Thursday morning — Wednesday night in the United States — and subsequent fire forced many of the Moskva’s roughly 500 crew members to abandon ship. There was no word on casualties. Ukraine said it had struck the vessel with two Neptune missiles and sunk it.

Russia’s Defense Ministry initially said its sailors had managed to put out the fire and the Moskva, commissioned in 1983, remained afloat. But hours later, it said, the ship sank while being towed to port in a storm.

Western defense officials said they could not be sure what caused the explosion aboard the 12,000-ton ship. Three American officials briefed on the incident said all indications were that it had been hit by missiles. The officials cautioned that early battlefield reports can sometimes change, but expressed deep skepticism over the Russian account of an accidental fire.

Ukraine has been stressing the need for coastal defense weapons, and the U.S. announced this week that it would send more of them. Pentagon officials said that other Russian ships had moved farther from the Ukrainian shoreline, lending credence to the claim of missile strikes.

“It’s going to have an impact on their naval capabilities, certainly in the near term,” but the long-term picture is unclear, said the Pentagon spokesman, John F. Kirby, a former Navy rear admiral.

Until now, Russian ships have been able to fire missiles at will against coastal cities. They have blockaded Ukraine’s south coast and threatened an amphibious landing in the southwestern region. The presence of an effective Ukrainian anti-ship weapon — Ukraine says the Neptune has a range of about 190 miles — could change those calculations, though Ukraine’s commercial shipping is unlikely to resume anytime soon.

Current and former American naval commanders said a successful missile attack would represent a shocking lack of Russian combat readiness.

“This is not supposed to happen to a modern warship,” said Adm. James G. Foggo III, a former commander of the United States Sixth Fleet, whose area of operations includes Europe. “If this was a Neptune missile strike, it’s indicative of complacency and lack of an effective integrated air and missile defense capability.”

Ukraine has endured most of the suffering in the war that began on Feb. 24, with untold thousands of casualties, widespread destruction and millions of people displaced, but the blowback on Russia has also been severe. Moscow’s vaunted military has often seemed hapless, absorbing unexpectedly heavy losses of men and equipment, while unprecedented sanctions imposed by the United States and its allies have shaken the Russian economy.

President Vladimir V. Putin acknowledged some of that cost on Thursday in a videoconference with top government officials and oil and gas executives, referring to “the disruption of export logistics” in that industry and “setbacks in payments for Russian energy exports.”

Credit…Mikhail Klimentyev/Sputnik

Fossil fuels are Russia’s biggest export product, a huge part of the Russian economy that employs millions of people and supplies the government with much of the revenue needed to support its war-making machinery.

Now E.U. officials and European diplomats say the bloc is moving toward barring oil imports from Russia, a ban that would be phased in over months to allow countries to arrange alternative supplies. They said European leaders will not make a final decision until after April 24, when France will hold its presidential runoff; a rise in fuel prices could hurt the prospects of President Emmanuel Macron and boost his right-wing opponent, Marine Le Pen, who has praised Mr. Putin.

The government of Germany, the most influential country in the European Union, has been particularly reluctant to cut off Russian fuel, which would come at a steep cost and could lead to shortages. But pressure from allies and mounting evidence of Russian atrocities in Ukraine have, step by step, overcome that resistance. Germany refused to allow the virtually completed, $10 billion Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline to go into service, supported the coal ban and now appears to be on board with an oil embargo.

Credit…Hannibal Hanschke/Reuters

The shifting stance of the neutral Scandinavian states is another unintended consequence for Mr. Putin. In waging a war that he said was intended to keep Ukraine out of NATO — a distant prospect at best — he may have succeeded in driving two countries that had been steadfastly nonaligned for generations into the arms of the alliance.

Dmitri A. Medvedev, a senior Russian security official, said on Thursday that if Sweden and Finland joined NATO, there would be “no more talk of a nuclear-free Baltics” region. Moscow would be compelled to “seriously strengthen” its air and ground forces in the area, said Mr. Medvedev, a former president and prime minister, and could deploy nuclear-armed warships “at arm’s length” from Finnish and Swedish shores.

Vladimir Solovyov, a television host who is considered a leading voice of Kremlin propaganda, said on Wednesday that Russia should destroy all Ukrainian infrastructure, including basic utilities.

Russia “must bring these terrorists to their senses in the cruelest way,” he said on his show on the state-owned Russia-1 channel. “We need to talk differently with terrorists,” he added. “There shouldn’t be any illusions that they can win.”

Russia has forced independent news outlets to shut down or leave the country, and has criminalized disputing the Kremlin’s account of the war. Yet Margarita Simonyan, the head of the state-owned RT news organization, said earlier this week that the government should restrict information even more.

No major power can exist “without having information under its control,” she said, adding, “we are all waiting for this.”

Matina Stevis-Gridneff reported from Brussels, and Richard Pérez-Peña from New York. Reporting was contributed by Ivan Nechepurenko and Anton Troianovski from Istanbul, Michael Schwirtz from London, and Helene Cooper, Eric Schmitt David E. Sanger and Julian E. Barnes from Washington.

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Ukraine Live Updates: As Zelensky Deplores U.N. Inaction, West Turns Up Economic Pressure on Russia

With evidence mounting of atrocities in the Kyiv suburbs, and Russian forces preparing for a new offensive farther east, President Volodymyr Zelensky of Ukraine delivered a scathing speech to the United Nations on Tuesday, accusing Russia of a litany of horrors and questioning whether a world body that takes no action to stop a war serves any purpose.

Speaking via video link to the U.N. Security Council, he compared Russian forces to the Islamic State, called for a Nuremberg-like war crimes tribunal and vented his bitter frustration, knowing that the council — where Russia is one of five permanent members with veto power — would do nothing but talk.

“Where is the security that the Security Council needs to guarantee?” Mr. Zelensky said, raising the question of whether Russia deserved to keep its seat on the council. “Are you ready to close the U.N.? Do you think that the time of international law is gone? If your answer is no, then you need to act immediately.”

The chamber fell silent as a short video provided by Mr. Zelensky’s government played, showing some of the hundreds of corpses found strewn around the city of Bucha, northwest of Kyiv, after Russian forces retreated last week — bloated, charred bodies of civilians, including children. Some victims, their hands bound, had been shot in the head.

Mr. Zelensky said that in Bucha, “they killed entire families, adults and children, and they tried to burn the bodies.” Civilians “were crushed by tanks while sitting in their cars in the middle of the road,” he added, asserting that “women were raped and killed in front of their children; their tongues were pulled out.”

China refrained from criticizing Russia in Tuesday’s session, saying that the Security Council should wait until investigations establish the facts in Ukraine. A rising global power, China has drawn closer to Russia in recent years, united by a shared antipathy to the United States. The divisions on the war appeared essentially unchanged since Feb. 26, when 11 of 15 Security Council members voted for a resolution condemning Russia’s invasion, Russia vetoed the measure, and three others abstained — China, India and the United Arab Emirates.

Credit…Daniel Berehulak for The New York Times

Russia’s U.N. ambassador, Vasily Nebenzya, reiterated his government’s claims — rebutted by ample evidence — that atrocities in Bucha had been faked, or had not occurred when Russians held the city. He made a number of other unsupported claims, including stating falsely that in Ukraine — where the freely elected president is a Jew who lost family members in the Holocaust — Nazis are “running the show.”

After President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia launched the war on Ukraine on Feb. 24, his military became bogged down on several fronts in the face of logistical failures and unexpectedly fierce Ukrainian resistance. Russian forces spent weeks shelling and occupying cities and towns in northern Ukraine, where they took heavy losses as they failed to capture Kyiv, the capital. Last week they pulled back from that part of the country, preparing for what Russian officials and foreign analysts said would be a shift in focus toward eastern Ukraine.

“The next pivotal battle of the war” is likely to be for the eastern city of Sloviansk, according to a report released on Tuesday by the Institute for the Study of War, based in Washington.

Revulsion over the apparent executions discovered in Bucha deepened Russia’s economic isolation, despite its denials of responsibility.

The United States has started blocking Russia from making debt payments using dollars held in American banks, a move designed to deplete its international currency reserves and potentially push Russia toward its first foreign currency debt default in a century.

And the European Union took a significant step toward overcoming resistance to curbing fuel imports from Russia, on which its member nations rely heavily. The European Commission, the executive body of the European Union, proposed cutting off imports of Russian coal — oil and natural gas remain hotly debated — and barring Russian vessels from E.U. ports as part of a new round of sanctions.

The measures, which require unanimous approval, are expected to go to a vote of E.U. ambassadors on Wednesday. Diplomats said the sanctions package would target, among others, two daughters of Mr. Putin. The European Commission president, Ursula von der Leyen, and the chief E.U. diplomat, Josep Borrell Fontelles, announced plans to visit Kyiv this week and meet with Mr. Zelensky.

Credit…Ivor Prickett for The New York Times

The Ukrainian prosecutor general’s office said that it, along with the Kyiv police, had discovered what it called a Bucha “torture chamber,” where Russian forces had left behind the bodies of five men, their hands tied, who had been tortured and killed.

Mr. Zelensky reinforced a point that U.N. officials have made repeatedly: The true extent of Ukraine’s destruction and casualties is unknown but far greater than what has been documented, because outside observers have been unable to reach some of the most devastated areas. “Now the world can see what Russia did in Bucha, but the world has yet to see what it has done in other parts of our country,” Mr. Zelensky said.

New York Times journalists on Tuesday were able for the first time to reach the town of Borodyanka, northwest of Kyiv, battered by Russian rockets and airstrikes, where the mayor estimated 200 dead lay beneath the rubble. In the besieged port of Mariupol, local officials have put the death toll in the thousands.

Fierce fighting continues along Ukraine’s southern coast, where Mariupol, largely reduced to ruins by Russian bombardment, is “the center of hell,” said Martin Griffiths, the U.N. chief of humanitarian relief.

More than 250 miles west of Mariupol, explosions shuddered through the port of Mykolaiv, a day after the mayor said Russian strikes had killed 10 people and wounded 46. He said that Russians had hit residential buildings, schools, a hospital and an orphanage in his city since the war began, and had used cluster munitions. Soldiers defending the city said that increasingly, Russian forces were hitting civilian targets.

Credit…Ivor Prickett for The New York Times

After four consecutive days of trying and failing to send an aid convoy into Mariupol, where people are desperately short of food, water, power, heat and medicines, the International Committee of the Red Cross decided against another attempt on Tuesday.

Ukrainian officials say the Russians have prevented crucial supplies from reaching the city. Mr. Nebenzya, the Russian U.N. ambassador, said the Ukrainians had blocked the convoy, and he claimed that Russian forces had evacuated 123,500 people from Mariupol.

The U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, Linda Thomas-Greenfield, said that in fact, tens of thousands of Ukrainians, including from Mariupol, had been taken to “filtration camps” in Russia, where family members were separated and people were stripped of passports and cellphones. “I do not need to spell out what these so-called filtration camps are reminiscent of,” she said. “It’s chilling, and we cannot look away.”

Rosemary A. DiCarlo, a U.N. under secretary general, said there was credible evidence that Russia had used cluster munitions — shells that burst open to spew many smaller bomblets over a wide area — at least 24 times in populated areas of Ukraine. Most countries have signed a treaty banning cluster munitions as indiscriminate weapons with a high risk of civilian casualties, but Russia, like the United States, has not.

More than 11 million Ukrainians — about one in four — have fled their homes because of the war, including more than 4 million who have left the country, according to the United Nations, creating Europe’s largest and fastest-growing refugee crisis since World War II.

Credit…Tyler Hicks/The New York Times

Russian forces recently captured the eastern city of Izyum, and Western analysts say they are preparing for a drive to the south and southeast, to bolster efforts to seize more of the Luhansk and Donetsk regions, where Russia-backed separatists have been fighting for eight years. Many of Ukraine’s best-equipped and most experienced military units have been concentrated in that area, known as Donbas.

“Russian forces continue to make little to no progress in frontal assaults” on the portions of Donbas still held by Ukraine, the Institute for the Study of War reported.

Whether the Russians aim simply to reinforce their units in Donbas, or are planning a more ambitious effort to encircle the Ukrainian forces, capturing Sloviansk is crucial, the institute said.

In the Luhansk region on Tuesday, an attack that Ukrainians blamed on Russian forces hit a storage tank containing nitric acid, releasing a toxic cloud and prompting the regional administrator to urge people to stay inside and close their windows.

The Russian units that withdrew from the region around Kyiv, having suffered heavy casualties, extensive equipment losses and poor morale, the institute said, “are highly unlikely to be effectively deployed elsewhere in Ukraine and are likely a spent force.”

An intelligence assessment released by the British defense ministry was less definitive, but said that any Russian forces redeploying from the north would first need considerable time to repair and replace equipment, and to make up for casualties.

Credit…Mauricio Lima for The New York Times

Reporting was contributed by Carlotta Gall in Borodyanka, Ukraine; Andrew E. Kramer in Kyiv, Ukraine; Rick Gladstone, Michael Schwirtz and Farnaz Fassihi in New York; Dan Bilefsky in Montreal; Steven Erlanger and Matina Stevis-Gridneff in Brussels; Megan Specia and Cora Engelbrecht in Krakow, Poland; Anton Troianovski in Istanbul; and Lara Jakes in Washington.

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Live Updates: Putin’s Military Advisers Misinformed Him on Ukraine, U.S. Intelligence Says

BELGRADE, Serbia — Mindful of the angry and still-unhealed wounds left by NATO’s bombing of Serbia more than 20 years ago, Ukraine’s ambassador appeared on Serbian television after Russia invaded and bombed his country in the hope of rousing sympathy.

Instead of getting time to explain Ukraine’s misery, however, the ambassador, Oleksandr Aleksandrovych, had to sit through rants by pro-Russian Serbian commentators, and long videos of Russia’s president, Vladimir V. Putin, denouncing Ukraine as a nest of Nazis. The show, broadcast by the pro-government Happy TV, lasted three hours, more than half of which featured Mr. Putin.

Angry at the on-air ambush, the ambassador complained to the producer about the pro-Kremlin propaganda exercise, but was told not to take it personally and that Mr. Putin “is good for our ratings.”

Credit…Sergey Ponomarev for The New York Times

That Russia’s leader, viewed by many in the West, including President Biden, as a war criminal, serves in Serbia as a lure for viewers is a reminder that the Kremlin still has admirers in Europe.

While Germany, Poland and several other E.U. countries display solidarity with Ukraine by flying its flag outside their Belgrade embassies, a nearby street pays tribute to Mr. Putin. A mural painted on the wall features an image of the Russian leader alongside the Serbian word for “brother.”

Part of Mr. Putin’s allure lies in his image as a strongman, an appealing model for President Aleksandr Vucic, the increasingly authoritarian leader of Serbia, and Prime Minister Viktor Orban, the belligerently illiberal leader of Hungary. Facing elections on Sunday, the Serbian and Hungarian leaders also look to Russia as a reliable source of energy to keep their voters happy. Opinion polls suggest both will win.

Then there is history, or at least a mythologized version of the past, that, in the case of Serbia, presents Russia, a fellow Slavic and Orthodox Christian nation, as an unwavering friend and protector down the centuries.

Credit…Sergey Ponomarev for The New York Times

But perhaps most important is Mr. Putin’s role as a lodestar for nations that, no matter what their past crimes, see themselves as sufferers, not aggressors, and whose politics and psyche revolve around cults of victimhood nurtured by resentment and grievance against the West.

Arijan Djan, a Belgrade-based psychotherapist, said she had been shocked by the lack of empathy among many Serbs for the suffering of Ukrainians but realized that many still bore the scars of past trauma that obliterated all feeling for the pain of others.

“Individuals who suffer traumas that they have never dealt with cannot feel empathy,” she said. Societies, like trauma-scarred individuals, she added, “just repeat the same stories of their own suffering over and over again,” a broken record that “deletes all responsibility” for what they have done to others.

A sense of victimhood runs deep in Serbia, viewing crimes committed by ethnic kin during the Balkan wars of the 1990s as a defensive response to suffering visited on Serbs, just as Mr. Putin presents his bloody invasion of Ukraine as a righteous effort to protect persecuted ethnic Russians who belong in “Russky mir,” or the “Russian world.”

“Putin’s ‘Russian world’ is an exact copy of and what our nationalists call Greater Serbia,” said Bosko Jaksic, a pro-Western newspaper columnist. Both, he added, feed on partially remembered histories of past injustice and erased memories of their own sins.

Credit…Sergey Ponomarev for The New York Times

The victim narrative is so strong among some in Serbia that Informer, a raucous tabloid newspaper that often reflects the thinking of Mr. Vucic, the president, last month reported Russia’s preparations for its invasion of Ukraine with a front-page headline recasting Moscow as a blameless innocent: “Ukraine attacks Russia!” it screamed.

The Serbian government, wary of burning bridges with the West but sensitive to widespread public sympathy for Russia as a fellow wronged victim, has since pushed news outlets to take a more neutral stand, said Zoran Gavrilovic, the executive director of Birodi, an independent media monitoring group in Serbia. Russia is almost never criticized, he said, but abuse of Ukraine has subsided.

Mr. Aleksandrovych, the Ukrainian ambassador to Serbia, said he welcomed the change of tone but that he still struggled to get Serbians to look beyond their own suffering at NATO’s hands in 1999. “Because of the trauma of what happened 23 years ago, whatever bad happens in the world is seen as America’s fault,” he said.

Credit…Sergey Ponomarev for The New York Times

Hungary, allied with the losing side in two world wars, also nurses an oversize victim complex, rooted in the loss of large chunks of its territory. Mr. Orban has stoked those resentments eagerly for years, often siding with Russia over Ukraine, which controls a slice of former Hungarian land and has featured prominently in his efforts to present himself as a defender of ethnic Hungarians living beyond the country’s border.

In neighboring Serbia, Mr. Vucic, anxious to avoid alienating pro-Russia voters ahead of Sunday’s election, has balked at imposing sanctions on Russia and at suspending flights between Belgrade and Moscow. But Serbia did vote in favor of a United Nations resolution on March 2 condemning Russia’s invasion.

That was enough to win praise for Mr. Vucic from Victoria Nuland, an American under secretary of state, who thanked Serbia “for its support for Ukraine.” But it did not stop Russia’s foreign minister, Sergey V. Lavrov, from on Monday suggesting Belgrade as a good place to hold peace talks between Moscow and Kyiv.

Serbs who want their country to join the European Union and stop dancing between East and West accuse Mr. Vucic of playing a double game. “There are tectonic changes taking place and we are trying to sleep through them,” said Vladimir Medjak, vice president of European Movement Serbia, a lobbying group pushing for E.U. membership.

Serbia, he said, is “not so much pro-Russian as NATO-hating.”

Instead of moving toward Europe, he added: “We are still talking about what happened in the 1990s. It is an endless loop. We are stuck talking about the same things over and over.”

More than two decades after the fighting ended in the Balkans, many Serbs still dismiss war crimes in Srebrenica, where Serb soldiers massacred more than 8,000 Bosnian Muslims in 1995, and in Kosovo, where brutal Serb persecution of ethnic Albanians prompted NATO’s 1999 bombing campaign, as the flip side of suffering inflicted on ethnic Serbs.

Credit…Sergey Ponomarev for The New York Times

Asked whether she approved of the war unleashed by Mr. Putin as she walked by the Belgrade mural in his honor, Milica Zuric, a 25-year-old bank worker, responded by asking why Western media focused on Ukraine’s agonies when “you had no interest in Serbian pain” caused by NATO warplanes in 1999. “Nobody cried over what happened to us,” she said.

With much of the world’s media focused last week on Russia’s destruction of Mariupol, the Ukrainian port city, Serbia commemorated the start of NATO’s bombing campaign. Front pages were plastered with photos of buildings and railway lines destroyed by NATO. “We cannot forget. We know what it is to live under bombardment,” read the headline of Kurir, a pro-government tabloid.

A small group of protesters gathered outside the United States Embassy and then joined a much bigger pro-Russia demonstration, with protesters waving Russian flags and banners adorned with the letter Z, which has become an emblem of support for Russia’s invasion.

Damnjan Knezevic, the leader of People’s Patrol, a far-right group that organized the gathering, said he felt solidarity with Russia because it had been portrayed as an aggressor in the West, just as Serbia was in the 1990s, when, he believes, “Serbia was in reality the biggest victim.” Russia had a duty to protect ethnic kin in Ukraine just as Serbia did in Bosnia, Croatia and Kosovo, Mr. Knezevic said.

Credit…Sergey Ponomarev for The New York Times

Bosko Obradovic, the leader of Dveri, a conservative party, said he lamented civilian casualties in Ukraine but insisted that “NATO has a huge responsibility” for their fate.

Mr. Obradovic on Sunday gathered cheering supporters for a pre-election rally in a Belgrade movie house. A stall outside the entrance sold Serbian paratrooper berets, military caps and big Russian flags.

Predrag Markovic, director for the Institute of Contemporary History in Belgrade, said that history served as the bedrock of nationhood but, distorted by political agendas, “always offers the wrong lessons.” The only case of a country in Europe fully acknowledging its past crimes, he added, was Germany after World War II.

“Everyone else has a story of victimization.” Mr. Markovic said.

Credit…Sergey Ponomarev for The New York Times

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New Supply Chain Risk: 22,000 Dockworkers Who May Soon Strike

In a world contending with no end of economic troubles, a fresh source of concern now looms: the prospect of a confrontation between union dockworkers and their employers at some of the most critical ports on earth.

The potential conflict centers on negotiations over a new contract for more than 22,000 union workers employed at 29 ports along the West Coast of the United States. Nearly three-fourths work at the twin ports of Long Beach and Los Angeles, the primary gateway for goods shipped to the United States from Asia, and a locus of problems afflicting the global supply chain.

The contract for the International Longshore and Warehouse Union expires at the end of June. For those whose livelihoods are tied to ports — truckers, logistics companies, retailers — July 1 marks the beginning of a period of grave uncertainty.

A labor impasse could worsen the floating traffic jams that have kept dozens of ships waiting in the Pacific before they can pull up to the docks. That could aggravate shortages and send already high prices for consumer goods soaring.

impacts of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and as China imposes new Covid restrictions on industry.

The dockworkers have moved unprecedented volumes of cargo during the pandemic, even as at least two dozen succumbed to Covid-19, according to the union. They are aware that many of the shipping terminals in Southern California are controlled by global carriers that have been racking up record profits while sharply increasing cargo rates — a fact cited by President Biden in his recent State of the Union address as he promised a “crackdown” to alleviate inflation.

With ports now capturing attention in Washington, some within the shipping industry express confidence that negotiations will yield a deal absent a disruptive slowdown or strike.

“There’s too much at stake for both sides,” Mario Cordero, executive director of the Port of Long Beach, said during a recent interview in his office overlooking towering cranes and stacks of containers. “There’s an incentive because the nation is watching.”

Savannah, Ga.

“If they don’t come to a compromise, then freight will get permanently diverted to the East Coast,” Mr. Matinifar said.

Animating contract talks is the popular notion that the longshoremen are a privileged class within the supply chain, using the union to protect their ranks — a source of resentment among other workers.

“They treat us like we’re nobodies,” said Mr. Chilton, the truck driver. “The way they talk to us, they’re very rude.”

traced to the outbreak of Covid-19, which triggered an economic slowdown, mass layoffs and a halt to production. Here’s what happened next:

Union officials declined to discuss their objectives for a new contract.

Mr. McKenna, the maritime association chief executive, said the union had yet to outline demands while declining to engage in discussions before May.

He expected that the union would resist efforts to expand automation at the ports, a traditional point of contention. He said greater automation — such as adding self-driving vehicles and robotics to move cargo — was unavoidable in ports in dense urban places like Los Angeles. There, land is tight, so growth must come from increasing efficiency, rather than physically expanding.

The last time the I.L.W.U. contract expired, West Coast ports suffered months of debilitating disruptions — the source of enduring recriminations.

Terminal operators accused dockworkers of slowing operations to generate pressure for a deal. The union countered that employers were the ones creating problems.

Some dockworkers question whether terminal owners are sincerely seeking to speed up cargo handling, given that shipping rates have soared amid chaos at the ports.

Jaime Hipsher, 45, drives a so-called utility tractor rig — equipment used to move containers — at a pair of Southern California shipping terminals. One is operated by A.P. Moller-Maersk, a Danish conglomerate whose profits nearly tripled last year, reaching $24 billion.

She said maintenance of equipment was spotty, producing frequent breakdowns, while the terminals were often understaffed — two problems that could be fixed with more spending.

A Maersk spokesman, Tom Boyd, rejected that characterization.

“Freight rates have been impacted by the global Covid-19 recovery and the demand outpacing supply,” he said in an emailed statement. “Ships at anchor are not productive, nor are they earning revenue against a backdrop of large fixed costs.”

That Ms. Hipsher spends her nights on the docks represents an unexpected turn in her life.

Her father was a longshoreman. He urged her to attend college and do something that involved wearing business attire, in contrast to how he spent his working hours — climbing a skinny ladder to the top of ships and loading coal onto vessels.

“He would come home after work and he would have coal dust coming out of his ears, out of his nose,” Ms. Hipsher recalled. “His hands would just be completely black.”

But in 2004, when she was working as a hairstylist, her brother — also a longshoreman — suggested that she enter a lottery for the right to become a casual dockworker.

The ports had changed, her brother said. Growing numbers of women were employed.

Eighteen years later, Ms. Hipsher has gained the security of seniority, health benefits and a pension.

As contract talks approach, she pushes back against the notion that the union poses a threat to the global economy.

“You’re complaining about my wages, thinking that my wages are the source of inflation, and we don’t deserve it,” she said. “Well, look at the billions that the owners are making.”

Emily Steel contributed reporting.

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